Edwin Black

This article is about the American journalist. For the rhetorician, see Edwin Black (rhetorician).
Edwin Black

Edwin Black in March 2014
Born Chicago, Illinois, United States
Occupation Historian, Journalist, Writer, Nazi-Era Historian
Genre Non Fiction
Notable works

Internal Combustion

Notable awards American Society of Journalists and Authors Best Nonfiction Investigative Book of the year for IBM and the Holocaust, 2003

Edwin Black is an American syndicated columnist and investigative journalist. He specializes in human rights, the historical interplay between economics and politics in the Middle East, petroleum policy, the abuses practiced by corporations, and the financial underpinnings of Nazi Germany.


Early years

Black is the son of Polish Jews who were survivors of the Holocaust. His mother, Ethel "Edjya" Katz, from Białystok, told of narrowly escaping death the Holocaust by escaping a boxcar en route to the Treblinka extermination camp as a 13-year old in August 1943. After escaping, she was shot.[1] Black's father described escaping his own murder by fleeing to the woods from a long march to an isolated "shooting pit" and subsequently fighting the Nazis as a Betar partisan. The pair had survived World War II by hiding in the forests of Poland for two years, emerging only after the end of the conflict and emigrating to the United States.[2]

Of his own origins, Black has written: "I was born in Chicago, raised in Jewish neighborhoods, and my parents never tried to speak of their experience again."[2]

In his book The Transfer Agreement Black notes that following in the beliefs of his parents he was from his earliest days a supporter of the State of Israel.[2] As a young man he spent time on a kibbutz, visited Israel on several other occasions, and gave earnest consideration to permanent residency there.[2]


Black began working as a professional journalist while still in high school, later attending university where he further developed the craft. He also was a frequent freelance contributor to the four major Chicago newspapers of the day, the Tribune, the Daily News, the Sun-Times, and Chicago Today, as well as such weeklies as Chicago Reader and Chicago Magazine.

In 1978 Black interviewed the American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who represented members of the American Nazi Party which in an intended provocation had marched through the predominantly Jewish Chicago suburb of Skokie.[3] In preparing himself for that interview, Black's interest was piqued in the hidden history of relations between the government of Adolf Hitler and German-Jewish Zionists during the first years of the Nazi regime. Five years of research followed, ending in the 1984 publication of his first book, The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine.[4]

In the early 1990s Black served as the editor-in-chief for OS/2 Professional magazine and OS/2 Week[5][6] and reported on OS/2 users and technology.

Black's books have typically made use of networks of volunteer and professional researchers assembled for each project. Three years before completion of his 2001 book, IBM and the Holocaust, Black began to put together what would ultimately become a team of more than 100 researchers, translators, and assistants to work on discovery and analysis of primary source documents written in German, French, and Polish. In all, more than 20,000 documents from some 50 different libraries, archives, museums, and other collections were assembled and analyzed in the writing of the book.[7]

In the fall of 2012 it was reported that Plan B, a production company owned by actor Brad Pitt, had taken an option on a cinematic adaptation of Black's IBM and the Holocaust.[8] Marcus Hinchey, co-writer of the 2010 film All Good Things, was tapped for script-writing responsibilities.[8]

Black has written on topics beyond that of 1933-1945 German history, including books on the issue of oil dependence, the history of Iraq, and alternative energy. He is presently a contributor to the online magazine, The Cutting Edge.

Black has also occasionally written on the subject of film and television music, contributing opinion pieces and composer interviews to various print and online publications.[9] An aficionado of musical soundtracks, Black regularly credits specific works which have provided "musical inspiration that propelled the writing" in the introductory notes to each book.[10]

Selected book tours

In February and March 2014, Black embarked upon a "Parliamentary Tour" in which he appeared at four parliaments in a four-week period, including the House of Commons in London, the European Parliament in Brussels, the Israeli Knesset in Jerusalem, and the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States House of Representatives in Washington D.C. [11]

In November and December 2014, he went on a 45-event "Human Rights Tour." In North Carolina, Black reportedly appeared nine times in three days speaking out against the persecution of Yazidis, Shia Muslims, and Christians in Iraq, racial injustice in America and its impact on the November elections, as well as environmental injustice arising out of oil addiction, journalistic ethics in covering human rights, bias against Jews in Israel, and a health care crisis in the Middle East.[12] At one of his November events, a lecture about his book Financing the Flames presented at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, some members of the audience associated with a group called Students for Justice in Palestine participated in an organized walk-out over his positions on the Mid-East conflict.[13]

Selected literary awards

Black's ten works of non-fiction have been translated into an array of non-English languages, including French, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, German, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, and Hebrew.[14]

Selected human rights awards



Anthology contributions

Contributions to video and film documentaries


  1. Betty Kliewer, "Ethyl Black Inspired a Generation with Holocaust Survival," The Cutting Edge News, Feb. 15, 2005.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Edwin Black, "Introduction to the 1984 Edition," The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine. Washington, DC: Dialog Press, 2009; pg. xxii -xx111.
  3. Edwin Black, "Introduction to the 1984 Edition," The Transfer Agreement, pg. xxi.
  4. "Book Discussion on The Transfer Agreement". C-SPAN. 30 October 2009. Retrieved 19 April 2015. Edwin Black talked about his book The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine (Dialog Press; 25th anniversary ed. August 25, 2009). He pieced together the story of an agreement made between Hitler’s government and a group of Zionist leaders in 1933. The agreement called for the transfer of 55,000 Jews and $100 million to Palestine in exchange for calling off a planned economic boycott of Nazi Germany by Jewish organizations.  For his only planned presentation on the release of the 25th anniversary edition of his controversial volume Edwin Black was interviewed by Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt. He also responded to questions from members of the audience and those submitted in advance electronically. Mitchell Bard moderated. This event at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Rockville, Maryland, at 2:30 p.m. Friday, October 30, 2009, was sponsored by the History News Network and cosponsored by Jewish Virtual Library, State of California Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Institute for Religion and Public Policy, Binghamton Social Justice Fund, Spero News, The Auto Channel, Energy Publisher, The Cutting Edge News and Dialog Press
  5. http://www.insearchofstupidity.com/ch6.htm
  6. http://windowsitpro.com/windows-client/windows-nt-40-corporate-desktop-standard
  7. Black, IBM and the Holocaust, pg. 13.
  8. 1 2 "Brad Pitt to Produce Movie on IBM & the Holocaust," The Jewish Voice, Sept. 19, 2012.
  9. Jerry Goldsmith talks to Edwin Black Archived January 15, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. See, for example, Edwin Black, Financing the Flames: How Tax-Exempt and Public Money Fuel a Culture of Confrontation and Terror in Israel. Washington, DC: Dialog Press, 2013; pg. xxiii, in which he credits specific works by Hans Zimmer, Anthony Gonzalez, and Jerry Goldsmith.
  11. Carol Monreal, "Best-selling Author Remains a Road Warrior for Human Rights," Spero News, www.speroforum.com/
  12. Monreal, "Best-selling Author Remains a Road Warrior for Human Rights." See also: Mariana Barillas, "Noted Author Edwin Black Schools Students on the Roots of Racism," Spero News, Dec. 9, 2014; and David Bloom, "Award-winning journalist talks about Ferguson, the Middle East," Hometown Life.com, Dec. 21, 2014.
  13. Amol Garg and Valeria Sosa, "Human Rights Author Edwin Black Met with Backlash and Walk-Out," The Guilfordian, Nov. 14, 2014.
  14. "Edwin Black" author search, WorldCat, Online Computer Library Center. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  15. Martin Barillas, "Author Holds Historic Event on The Transfer Agreement," The Cutting Edge.com, October 12, 2009. Retrieved May 9, 2010.
  16. 1 2 "ASJA Presents 2003 Writing Awards," American Society of Journalists and Authors, http://www.asja.org/
  17. "Awards," Edwin Black.com. Retrieved May 9, 2010.
  18. "2007 Awards," American Society of Journalists and Authors, ASJA.org.
  19. http://www.holocaustmuseumswfl.org/calendar-item/edwin-black-speaking-series/ and http://naples.floridaweekly.com/news/2016-02-18/Top_News/Holocaust_museum_presents_bestselling_author_Edwin.html and http://www.naplesnews.com/participate/361322901.html.
  20. Terrence Sterling, "Investigative Author Edwin Black Headlined Conference, Received First 'Moral Courage' Award," The Cutting Edge, Oct. 30, 2011.
  21. Mariana Barillas, "Noted Author Edwin Black Schools Students on the Roots of Racism," Spero News, Dec. 9, 2014.
  22. https://web.archive.org/web/20150216040545/http://mcmorris.house.gov/news-releases/mcmorris-rodgers-receives-justice-for-all-award-from-american-association-of-people-with-disabilities-aapd/. Archived from the original on February 16, 2015. Retrieved February 16, 2015. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  23. Paul Shore, IBM and the Holocaust, Guerrilla News Network, 2002.

External links

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